Jump to content

Rattlesnake Longboat by Torrens - 1781

Recommended Posts

Some months ago I started work on the privateer Rattlesnake's longboat as a prelude to making the actual Model Shipways kit of the same name. I followed the instructions but also appiled, where possible, the methods advocated by the late Ewart Freeston in his book Model Open Boats (Conway Maritime Press, 1975). I also consulted W E May's book The Boats of Men-of-War (Chatham Publishing 1999).


Progress was relatively swift and the photos below show the stage I reached before realising that not only were the proportions of the longboat inaccurate, but knowing this would irritate for as long as I looked at the model! The plans of the Rattlesnake show a correctly proportioned longboat, but the lifts do not give the same result and there's absolutely nothing that can be done to rectify the errors. The hull is too narrow, particularly towards the stern, and she lacks sufficient body for a longboat. However, I continued...


After gluing the lifts together as per the instructions I sanded the hull, inside and out. Not only was this to smooth the lifts into the shape required, but it also allowed me to make the shell as near to scale thickness as my skills allowed. This latter process is not easy using basswood, because of it's nature to fur up. Between sanding sessions, whether by hand or by using an electric burr, I applied copious ammounts of sanding sealer.


Once I was satisfied with the hull I then fiited the single piece stem-stermpost-keel. Then it was the fitting out of the inside, starting with the frames, made from sized paper, then adding the riser that supports the thwarts, fitting the bottom boards and stern grating, making and fitting the square mast housing, fitting the thwarts and finally fitting the gunwale. The gunwale was secured using very fine brass wire, just visible in some of the photos below. I also used fine brass wire to fix the riser for the thwarts and to secure the keel to the hull, going right through the central bottom board.


The mast was hand carved from square stock.


The photos show the longboat treated with a diluted undercoat. One day I might finish it in the 'correct' colours, though much work would needs to be done to remove the evidence of the lifts and to fill the over-scale grain of the thwarts, etc...!


For information the model was photographed against a back cloth of black felt. I included a metric and Imperial scale to indicate the size of the model - which is much smaller than the photos might suggest, hence the enlarged grain and seemingly rough edges!


Comments welcomed!











Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I am getting to the point soon were I will be building my Mamoli Rattlesnake longboat for my model. Although I am following Bob Hunt's Practicum as my "bible" as this is my first plank on bulkhead boat in 30 years. I never did finish that one. I plan to deviate from the Practicum and not use the boat shell provided in the kit. I purchased the Model Shipways 108mm boat kit MS0107. It just seemed like fun thing to do. I am not all that familiar with the "methods advocated by the late Ewart Freeston in his book Model Open Boats " or "W E May's book The Boats of Men-of-War ."


What kit manufacture did you use?


Did you use the boat supplied by the kit, or did you scratch build? The Mamoli's boat is a rough carved shell. I don't know what Model Shipways supplied, but suspect layers to be glued together like the kit I purchased.


What has me a bit confused is that you stated "The plans of the Rattlesnake show a correctly proportioned longboat, but the lifts do not give the same result and there’s absolutely nothing that can be done to rectify the errors. The hull is too narrow, particularly towards the stern, and she lacks sufficient body for a longboat." If the kit plans were correct, where you stating that the boat parts were not?


Anything that you can guide me along would be greatly appreciated

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good evening JSGerson!


My longboat is from the Model Shipways kit of the Rattlesnake. Open boat model making methods advocated by Freeston can be found in his book, as per the details I gave in my post above. I would strongly recommend this book, though I believe it is now out-of-print, but should be easily available from second-hand booksellers.


In making the longboat in the photos above I used the lifts as supplied in the Model Shipways kit. These were a number of horizontal layers - lifts - that you glue together and then refine by carving and sanding to shape. Getting to this stage it becomes increasingly apparent that the lifts are inaccurate as they result in a longboat that is too narrow; too fine in the run aft and generally out-of-proportion to what the plans show and what further research evidences! These errors are confirmed when you study the information in May's book. However, the Model Shipway plans are relatively correct - you just need to ignore the lifts provided in the kit and start from scratch. I'm in the process of doing exactly this and will post a few photos which should better explain the differences. I'll do this as soon as I can. 


Hope this helps - until I can find the time to post a photographic up-date of a correctly proportioned longboat for the Rattlesnake!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

By the way, you might be able to get a second-hand copy of Freeston's book Model Open Boats from;


Columbia Trading Company

1022 Main Street

West Barnstable

Massachusetts, 02668.


Tel (in the USA): 508-362-1500.


They have an incredible stock of maritime and naval books, including a large selection of books on ship model making. I was there for the first time in July and was sorely tempted to spend my life's savings!!!


Good luck!


PS They have a website!

Edited by Torrens
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...